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Study Finds Boys with Autism Show Strong Grammatical Skills

Study Finds Boys with Autism Show Successful Grammatical Skills

Boys with high-functioning autism may have stronger grammatical skills than those without. 

According to a recent study from Georgetown University's Medical Center, boys with autism were discovered to be "much faster at producing past tenses for regular verbs," said an article on HealthDay.com. The researchers, the article said, "compared 20 boys, ages 7 to 13, with high-functioning autism and 25 boys without autism."

"We had not expected this interesting finding," said study senior author Michael Ullman in a news release. "It makes us wonder whether some children with autism might also show related strengths, as yet unrecognized."

The boys with autism, the article said, were "faster at creating regular past tense words that end in '-ed' -- such as work and worked of step and stepped." They weren't faster when it came to irregular past tenses, like "sing" and "sang."

Being able to process regular past tenses, Ullman said, reflects our "grammatical abilities that are critical for understanding and producing sentences, while irregular forms are simply stored in our mental dictionary alongside words like cat."

"The results suggest that children with high-functioning autism may show speedy processing of grammar, while this pattern might not hold for at least some stored words," he said. "These grammatical abilities appear to depend on the procedural memory system -- implicit memory that we use to learn and perform cognitive and motor skills such as playing video games and driving."

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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